Interview with Alinka Rutkowska, author of "Maya & Filippo"
Alinka Rutkowska is a "Reader's Favorite" Five Star Picture Book Author. She writes the "Maya & Filippo" Book Series for Children - travel books for kids with a positive attitude. She takes inspiration from her own travels while cruising with her husband and daughter around the world. She is positive, appreciative and happy 95% of the time and during the miserable 5% she thinks to herself quickly: "things always work out for me" and they do.
Alinka's doesn't really have a "to do" list but she does have a "fun things to do" list. It usually consists of writing, reading, reading her writing, writing in her diary, blogging, reading other blogs, commenting, breathing deeply, meditating, feeling the warmth of the sun on her skin, closing her eyes, breathing some more and thinking what a wonderful world she lives in.
Sometimes she takes a few minutes to pause and instead of doing something from her "fun things to do" list she just daydreams a little. She thinks of all the great things that she wants for her to happen and imagines how wonderful it will feel to be interviewed about them in the future. She's already preparing the answers to those interview questions in her mind. She especially loves the part, in which she says that she achieved all these things because she spent a considerable amount of time visualizing them first.
Alinka loves to ski while listening to music at the same time, she enjoys an occasional glass (or bottle) of Barolo with dark chocolate, she loves cuddling with her husband and daughter. Alinka really likes tea, especially that last sip which is usually the tastiest.
You can visit Alinka’s website at www.mayafilippo.com, where she blogs daily for parents, travelers and authors.
Tell us about your recent release. What was your inspiration for it?
Back in 2010 I stepped out of my comfort zone and left my well-paid corporate job for a one year sabbatical. I took off for the other side of the world, which for me was New Zealand. I was traveling all by myself so I had plenty of time to observe and reflect. I noticed that the more positive my attitude was, the better experiences I was attracting. I went on a cruise from Auckland in New Zealand to Sydney in Australia and I was shocked when I found out that it was almost all couples and families traveling on board. I quickly reset my thinking and started to expect the best from that cruise. And guess what? I met my husband on that journey!
Through my children’s book Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland I want to convey this positive outlook to the little ones. The two main characters, Maya and Filippo, visit Auckland and discover a funny thing: the more they complain - the worse their day turns out. They try to change their thinking to check if this would change what happens to them. In the meantime, they also see the main tourist attractions of New Zealand’s capital city.
Tell us about your children's books.
Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland is only the first of a whole series of Maya and Filippo’s adventures. Each story takes place in a different port and the children always learn something positive while discovering a new city.
I am proud to share that the first two books of the series, Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland and Maya & Filippo Play Chef at Sea, received five star reviews from Readers’ Favorite and are being printed with their seal of excellence on the cover.
I have great faith in this series. I am submitting the books to various competitions because I strongly believe that they are gold medal material. They will also be displayed at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in March, where I hope to attract foreign publishers and get the series translated into several other languages.
I know that my enthusiasm might seem excessive at times, but if I don’t believe in myself, then who will?
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? If yes, how did you ‘cure’ it? Some writers go on long walks, others keep a journal, write at a café, or listen to music. What do you do for inspiration and unleashing your creativity?
First of all, I let an idea for a book marinate in my head for several days or weeks before I start writing. I always know what my characters will learn and which places they will visit.
My routine is always the same. First I arrange for an undisturbed writing session, which usually means that my daughter has to be asleep. Then I make sure that I have a clear mind. In order to do that I have a little meditation session before I get to work. I sit with my spine straight and take several deep breaths or I watch a little video I made myself for inspiration: it’s got music that raises my spirit, images that I love and some very powerful affirmations. When I feel ready I turn on the type of music that suits me at the moment and I pour everything on paper, errr, screen.
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your works?
I blog daily about exceptional living at www.mayafilippo.com. The site is clearly divided into sections for parents, travelers and authors and each of these groups will find some great material.
What are you working on now?
Writing, publishing and promoting. I love what I do and I want to do more of it. I will be writing more Maya & Filippo episodes.
The first batch to be published will be books from my travels in New Zealand:
Maya & Filippo Play Chef at Sea
Maya & Filippo Look for Happiness in Tauranga
Maya & Filippo See Impossible Things in the Garden City
Maya & Filippo Learn about Careers in Dunedin
Maya & Filippo Talk Business in Seattle
Maya & Filippo Look for Whales in Ketchikan
Maya & Filippo Visit a Glacier
Maya & Filippo See Things Differently in Skagway
I’ve already written these and the artwork for the covers is also complete, so they will all have been published by mid 2015.
I am now going to Hawaii and I will definitely not come back empty-handed. I think I will also include a few European ports in my future books. We are talking about 2015-2016 here.
Each book requires copy-editing, illustrations, coloring and graphic design. I have a team of people with whom I work closely to get each book ready for publication. After that I spend my free hours spreading the word out. I want this series to get to people who will appreciate it and that’s a full time job!
Where are your books available?
Amazon and all the other portals, in brick and mortar stores and - this is new and this is huge - I landed a deal with one of the biggest cruise lines - they will be carrying my titles in their boutiques on board!
What was your experience in working with an illustrator?
I was lucky - I immediately liked my illustrator’s work. Since Maya & Filippo is a picture book series, the drawings are a major component. We sat side by side as Konrad, my illustrator created the artwork for the first two books and we discussed everything that should be in the pictures. Now we understand each other so well that I just send him the text and he sends back the final illustrations. They are nearly always even better than I would have imagined.
What type of book promotion works for you? Any special strategies you’d like to share?
This is a new series, with the first book released at the end of November 2013, but I’ve been doing plenty of promotion. Most of it still “behind the scenes though.”
The visible stuff is:
- Readers’ Favorite Five Star seal of excellence on the cover.
- First Virtual Blog Tour (this interview is part of it).
- Book trailers - I learnt to create my own.
- Social networking.
- Soliciting reviews.
- Joining SCBWI.
- Joining a writer’s group.
Behind the scenes:
- Contacting retailers and getting my book into various book stores.
- Going digital.
- Getting ready for book fairs.
- Participating in book contests.
- More blog tours, interviews and guest posts.
You can check out my article Book Marketing 101 to deepen your knowledge on this subject. I also regularly report out on what’s working and what’s not - you are a welcome guest at my blog at www.mayafilippo.com.
About the Book:
Embark on a one-of-a-kind, unprecedented, breathtaking adventure with Maya and Filippo as they travel around the globe on board the “Fun Princess” — a cruise ship full of surprises. Discover their fascinating ports of call, find out what the local customs and traditions are, join the kids in activities at sea, and explore the remarkable world they create through the power of their positive outlook.
This time Maya and Filippo discover
and meet different kinds of people
depending on...read the book to find out! Spoiler alert: the kids ride a big
hop-on, hop-off explorer bus, where strange things happen. They stop at the
famous Auckland , where they do something very
exciting. Sky Tower
BUY THE BOOK AT AMAZON.